How to Shred Cabbage for Salads

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Knife and shredded cabbage.
Knife and shredded cabbage. (Image: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images)

Cabbage's hardiness and versatility make it one of the world's most important vegetable crops, eaten pickled, cooked or raw, in cuisines all around the world. Its sturdy leaves are usually shredded for use in salads, minimizing the cabbage's sometimes-leathery texture and maximizing its fresh, moist crunch. Shredding the head of cabbage requires only a sharp knife and minimal skill once you understand the basic technique.

Off With Its Head

Heading cabbages, whether the tight Western-style cannonballs or the looser Asian-style "Napa" cabbage, share a similar basic anatomy. The leaves grow in a tight cluster from a central stem, or core, which must be cut away when you wish to shred the leaves. Place your cabbage on a cutting board, and quarter it lengthwise with a large chef's knife or other long knife. You'll see the core as a pale wedge at the base of each quarter. Trim it away with a diagonal cut, and your cabbage is ready to shred. Make thin slices across each quarter crosswise, then chop them coarsely into shorter pieces if they're still too long to eat easily.

Quick and Convenient

If you're challenged in your knife skills, have limited dexterity or are simply in a hurry, you can shun the knife in favor of quicker alternatives. Many commercial kitchens rely on the mandoline, a flat slicer with a cutting blade mounted in its frame. Use the hand safety guard to grip the cabbage; then slide it back and forth over the slicing blade to shred the vegetable. Alternatively, use the shredding disc in your food processor. This won't make clean, pretty shreds suitable for garnishing a leafy salad, but it can quickly produce juicy shredded cabbage for a large batch of slaw.

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